One of Downtown Los Angeles' latest architectural masterpieces was unveiled at a press preview this week. Now, after three years of construction, the new $140-million Broad Museum will officially open on September 20, bringing the world-famous art collection of philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad to the public.

Designed by New York City-based Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), with Gensler serving as executive architect,  the project sits beside other downtown cultural icons on Grand Avenue such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which museum founder Eli Broad says influenced the design. "We wanted something that would not clash with the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but we didn't want it to be anonymous either," said Broad last year.

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The Broad makes its architectural statement with a honeycomb-looking exterior that is part of the DS+R's "Vault and Veil" design. The exterior "veil" is a structural exoskeleton comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel that drape over The Broad and appear to lift up at the south and north corners to define two street-level entrances. At the center of the Grand Avenue side of the veil is the architectural feature known as "the oculus" - an huge indentation in the side of the building was struck by a giant golf ball.

Because of its asymmetrical shape the structure has been very fascinating and challenging to construct. To make it together, the project's general contractor, Santa Fe Springs, CA-based MATT Construction, had to extensively employ a 3D modeling tool called Digital Project, which was developed by Gehry Technologies.

“Building the Broad was like building a Swiss Watch out of concrete and steel,” says Greg Wade, MATT's senior project manager and VP. "The one-of-a-kind structural system and extensive cantilevers, combined with the museum’s unique architectural façade and roof elevated it to a level of challenge and sophistication that we rarely see."

The three-story building consists of a structural concrete core with window openings surrounded by a honeycomb-like "veil" wrapper. The veil is made of 2,500 fiberglass-reinforced concrete panels with more than 400 different trapezoidal shapes. The panels are attached to a 650-ton structural steel "net" backing. The net is attached to the concrete structural shear wall of the building at two points, on 2nd Street and on GTK Way.

Loads from the veil come down onto a 32-ton, 57-ft-long touchdown beam girder, which is shaped like a Viking ship. The bottom of the girder is embedded 5 ft below the sidewalk in a bathtub-shaped steel plate, measuring approximately 5 ft wide, 10 ft long and 5 ft deep. The girder is secured to the plate with 56 anchor bolts.

The project, which broke ground in May 2012, sits atop three levels of underground parking that contains 366 spaces in a total of 155,000 sq ft. The museum houses nearly 2,000 works of contemporary art in The Broad Art Foundation and Eli and Edythe Broad's personal collection, which are among the most prominent holdings of postwar and contemporary art worldwide.  

DS+R's innovative "veil-and-vault" design for the 120,000-sq-ft museum also includes two floors and more than 50,000-sq-ft of public gallery space and a central "vault" to house the collections and lending library.